Setu: move afoot to remove Baalu

Move afoot to remove Baalu (Pioneer, 14 Feb. 2008)

The reshuffle gave a strong indication of a probable minor Cabinet reshuffle by Saturday. There could be a surprise element in the reshuffle. According to well-placed sources, DMK’s TR Baalu, who is the Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, could be replaced by Trichy Siva.

Siva, who has recently been made a Rajya Sabha member, is considered loyal to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. Sources said that Baalu seemed to have fallen out of favour with Karunanidhi, especially because the latter did not like the way Baalu handled the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) controversy.

A similar indication has also come from the Central Government’s side. Baalu had recently written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to appoint Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Brahm Dutt as Shipping Secretary. Dutt was hand-picked by Baalu to head Road Transport and Highways after previous Secretary Vijay Singh was transferred to Defence Ministry.

Sources said that under normal circumstances such a request from a Cabinet Minister is always honoured.

The snub came on Wednesday when APVN Sarma, a 1976 batch Andhra Pradesh cadre officer, took over as Shipping Secretary. The much talked about induction of Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is unlikely to take place. Sources said that Kanimozhi has declined to join the Government…

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